How to Run a ‘Pre-Mortem’ Brainstorm to Spot (and Avoid) Project Fails


Get Shift Done: Management

Image by Jeremy Yap

Imagine this situation: you’re leading a project kick-off meeting. From the looks on people’s faces, you know that they have questions, concerns, and reservations about the project, but so far they’re not voicing them. Their reasons don’t matter, but you need to cut through the ice. It’s time for a pre-mortem.

A pre-mortem is a way to create a ‘safe space’ to express sentiments that could be construed as negative. It’s a simple enough concept: you imagine it’s 18 months in the future and the project has been a failure. The job of the pre-mortem is to identify in advance why that might happen.


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